Why Muslims should avoid participating in Halloween
Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from Celtic harvest festivals which may have pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, and that this festival was Christianized as Halloween. Some academics, however, support the view that Halloween began independently as a solely Christian holiday.
In parts of Wales, men went about dressed as fearsome beings called gwrachod. In the late 19th and early 20th century, young people in Glamorgan (Wales) and Orkney (Scotland) cross-dressed. Elsewhere in Europe, mumming and hobby horses were part of other yearly festivals. However, in the Celtic-speaking regions they were “particularly appropriate to a night upon which supernatural beings were said to be abroad and could be imitated or warded off by human wanderers”.
From at least the 18th century, “imitating malignant spirits” led to playing pranks in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. Wearing costumes and playing pranks at Halloween spread to England in the 20th century.
Today’s Halloween customs are also thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saints’ or Hallow-mas) on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows’ Eve (meaning the evening before All Hallows’ Day).
These three days are collectively called Allhallowtide and are a time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach Heaven.
On the custom of wearing costumes, Christian minister Prince Sorie Conteh wrote: “It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities”.
On Halloween, in medieval Europe, “fires [were] lit to guide these souls on their way and deflect them from haunting honest Christian folk.” Households in Austria, England and Ireland often had “candles burning in every room to guide the souls back to visit their earthly homes”.